In which Christiane Amanpour singlehandedly earns back some of the credibility lost in CNN’s news vacuum last night. There’s a print article about this at CNN.com too but the clip really must be seen to be believed. I can’t tell if it’s just a poor translation or a particularly eccentric example of Ahmadine-speak, but he’s so disjointed as to be almost incoherent. In fact, between this and his surreal dismissal of the growing street protests as “not important,” I wonder if the strain’s made him go goofy. Steve Clemons’s Iranian source predicted that Dinnerjacket would try to have Mousavi and Rafsanjani killed, but it’s one thing to eliminate your opponents and another thing to taunt millions of their outraged supporters by hinting about it on TV. Is this nut trying to provoke a civil war or has he finally gone completely around the bend?
I’m doing my best to stay on top of the Iran story in Headlines — the very latest is Mousavi formally calling for the election results to be voided — but honestly, it’s moving too fast even for that format. Your best bet is Twitter; see, e.g., this report of Arabic-speaking Iranian security forces now on patrol, the first of its kind that I’ve spotted anywhere. If you don’t want to sign up and follow the dispatches from Iranians in the streets, that’s okay: Just go here and keep refreshing or, if you’d rather have updates streamed to you, go to Twitterfall and check the box for #iranelection in the left-hand sidebar. (If it isn’t there when you read this, type #iranelection in the custom field and check the box there.) If you’re already on Twitter and looking for Iranians to follow, I recommend Change_for_Iran, StopAhmadi, iran09, TehranBureau, alirezasha, and jimsciuttoABC. There are others, of course; if you know of any good ones, share in the comments.
Before you watch, ponder a good question asked by a commenter in Headlines: Why is Khamenei so invested in an Ahmadinejad victory, especially if, as we’re forever being told, he holds the ultimate power to set policy in Iran? Mousavi’s no secularist or squish; he’s basically Ahmadinejad lite, duly vetted and approved by Iran’s Guardian Council as Islamic enough to lead the country. The New Yorker theorizes that Khamenei got nervous about how much youth support Mousavi was getting and decided to torpedo him lest he bring some fundie version of Hopenchange to the presidency. But why would Khamenei worry about that when the regime did such an effective job of containing Khatami’s reformist agenda 10 years ago? The safe play would have been to appease the kids by crowning Mousavi the winner, enacting a few token reforms, and then muddling along with the nuke kabuki until they have the bomb. Instead, he validated an electoral sham so brazen that it has the country inching towards revolution. Why? Occam’s Razor suggests that this is a true coup, with Ahmadinejad rigging the results himself and then somehow forcing Khamenei to bless them. But how could he manage that? What’s really going on here?
Exit question: How soon before Hezbollah and Hamas are ordered to attack Israel to distract the Iranian masses?